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A ’60s-Themed Christmas Event

A Dallas couple shakes things up with a retro-themed Christmas party.
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REWIND: A 60s-themed Christmas party begs for kitschy decorations in eye-popping, neon colors (below right). Encourage guests to dress in their vintage best (left) and sip Green Apple martinis (below left).

Groovy Christmas
Skip the eggnog. Forget sugar and spice. Invite a few friends over for a party that’s naughty and nice.

Bored with the same-old, same-old holiday parties, but absolutely stumped for new ideas? So was I until I attended Adrienne Faulkner-Chalkley and Nigel Chalkley’s wild and crazy ’60s-themed Christmas ornament exchange. Our hostess insisted that we all dress in appropriate flashback garb. Costumes? At Christmas? I knew this was going to be my kind of party.

Stepping onto Adrienne and Nigel’s front porch, we hear, “Groovy, baby!” “Behave!” “You’re really randy, baby!” Okay, the motion-activated Austin Powers voice is a little goofy, but we’re still chuckling when our hostess opens the front door.

Adrienne, an interior designer, practically glows in a Mrs. Claus mini-dress, red fishnets, and white go-go boots. Nigel, a hypnotherapist, is head-to-toe Timothy Leary, complete with peace-sign necklace. The stereo is playing those golden-oldie Christmas songs everyone grew up with, ranging from tunes from Charlie Brown specials to sentimental favorites by Johnny Mathis and Burl Ives. Nigel introduces us to Amy and Michael Meadows, also dressed in mod attire. Chatting about our costumes is an easy way to pass those first few sometimes-awkward minutes, and we’re soon comfortable with each other. Of course, slurping down one of caterer Wendy Krispin’s cinnamon mod-tinis helps a little, too.

PARTY ANIMALS: Comparing vintage attire got conversation started (above), but a game of true confessions later in the evening started tongues wagging (left). Host Nigel Chalkley broadcasts his holiday sentiments (below right). The family cat prefers to watch from a safe vantage point (below left).

More ’60s groupies arrive: real estate developer Mike Decker wears a skinny black tie, black suit, and loafers with white socks. His wife Becky is a dark-haired Twiggy look-alike. Lynae Fearing pops in, sans Dean, who’s cooking at the Mansion tonight. Last but not least, Guy Brignon arrives with wife Peggy, who is wearing her mother’s vintage Pucci palazzo pantsuit, along with Realtor Ruth Lindsley.

As we’re mingling in the living room, I see that Adrienne has enlisted event planner Rusty Glenn to create a scene right out of one of Andy Warhol’s hallucinations—everywhere I look there’s something fun. White linen slipcovers on the furniture are plastered with electric-pink, tomato-red, tangerine, and lime-green felt polka dots. Swatches of rabbit fur in the same colors top the dining, coffee, and kitchen tables. I marvel at the swirling lava lamps decorating the Christmas tree.

“Rusty created metal braces to hold the lava lamps,” Adrienne tells me out of the corner of her mouth, as I pass her by the tree. “They’re hidden inside the tree.” Rusty, you’re a genius.
 

In the dining room, the chandelier is draped with a garland of daisies and red balls, and a bronze reindeer centerpiece guards the chocolate fondue. In the den, a beaded curtain in the doorway is held back with more Gerber daisies, and traditional Christmas stockings are paired with tall silver tapers in red candlesticks. Sterling bowls are filled with pink glass ornaments and colorful fuzzy pompoms. In the kitchen, which has been decorated with green button mum trees with fuchsia flowers and gold paper crackers, I find caterer Wendy Krispin putting the finishing touches on platters of spicy hors doeuvres. Thank you, Wendy.

Sticking to the flashback theme when planning the entertainment, Adrienne asked us all to bring two old photos of ourselves, which she collected as we arrived. Now she gathers us around a display of them, and we have to guess who’s who.

“This has to be you, Mike,” I say. “You look exactly the same.”

“Well,” Mike says, touching his hair, “my forehead’s gotten a little bigger.”

Then more blasts from the past: over the course of the party, Adrienne has us write anonymous confessions—things even our spouses don’t know about us—on scraps of paper. As each is read, we’re supposed to guess whose secret it is. The unanimous winner is the guest who admits to a prom night tryst on the diving board at a local country club. (All she’ll say is that her “cohort in crime” was on the St. Mark’s swim team.)

Later in the evening, after we’ve all naturally congregated around the tree, Adrienne announces it’s time for the white-elephant ornament exchange. We draw numbers to determine order. David and I draw 12, which means we’ll get to go last for the ultimate steal. Adrienne’s first; she plucks a sack from beneath the tree and finds a snowman with a frosted hat and scarf. “This is no white elephant,” she says. “It’s adorable.” Several people seem to agree, because that snowman gets stolen every third round. I see that Adrienne is following its progress; she really wants that snowman. I catch her eye and wink. She looks at me questioningly. Finally, it’s our turn. “You can choose for us, dear,” David says, chivalrously.

I grab the snowman from Peggy, who’s slightly miffed. “No fair,” she says.

“All’s fair in love, war, and white-elephant exchanges,” I say.

As we’re leaving, I whisper to Adrienne, “Your birthday’s coming up. You’ll be seeing the snowman again.”

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THE MENU

Teriyaki Sea bass and Cranberry Mint Couscous with Spicy Cranberry Sauce

Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Wasabi Sake Lobster Shooters

Caper Chicken Bruschetta

Roasted Red and Green Bell Pepper Turkey Quesadillas

Thai Beef Tomato Noodle take-out boxes with chopsticks

Medium Rare Lamb Loin on Soft Polenta with Winter Chutney on a Spoon

Green Apple Martinis

Cinnamon Martinis

Milk Punch 

 

Caper Chicken Bruschetta
(makes 20-40 pieces)

 1  pound chicken breast
 1  16-ounce jar of capers, with liquid
 1  12-ounce can of artichokes, with juice
 1  large bell paper
 1  cup extra virgin olive oil
 1  loaf crusty sourdough bread
 1  8-ounce block of Parmigiano-Reggiano
 1  bunch arugula

Combine capers, artichokes, and bell pepper in food processor and pulse until pasty. Add oil and juices to form marinade. Marinate covered chicken overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and cook chicken 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let stand and cool. Slice very thinly.

Cut off bread crust and slice thinly into squares. Brush with butter or olive oil and toast until golden brown. Store in airtight container.

Shave Parmesan, using apple peeler or sharp knife to make thick slices for garnish.
Place caper chicken on top of toast square and garnish with arugula, shaved parmesan, and a caper or two.

Note: If toast or chicken becomes too dry, add a bit of creamy Caesar salad dressing.


Tenderloin of Beef Satay
(makes 16 appetizer portions)

 2   pounds beef tenderloin cut, into 1-ounce strips
 8   ounces tamarind sauce
 2   tablespoons honey
 1   tablespoon curry powder
 1   tablespoon sesame oil
 2   ounces olive oil
 8   ounces water
 2   tablespoons red curry paste
 24  water-soaked skewers

Bring all ingredients (except tenderloin) to a boil over medium heat. Let cool. Meanwhile, skewer the tenderloin and place in a shallow pan. Pour liquid ingredients over the skewered tenderloin, cover and let rest overnight. Grill or sauté until rare. Transfer to seasonal serving piece and serve.

Cinnamon Tini
(makes 1 martini)

 4  ounces chilled premium vodka
 1  ounce chilled cinnamon Schnapps

Combine ingredients in a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Milk Punch
(serves 8)

 1  quart Blue Bell French Vanilla Ice Cream
 8  ounces Captain Morgan Spiced Rum
 8  ounce bourbon
 1  quart half and half
     Nutmeg to taste

Combine cold, softened ice cream with bourbon and rum. Add half and half and mix. Serve in a festive glass, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

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